The potato was introduced to Egypt during the 1800's, and large scale cultivation began during the First World War, when British colonial officials encouraged its production to feed their troops. After the war, however, expansion of potato growing was hampered by the poor quality of imported seed and by farmers' inexperience with the crop.
That has changed. Since 1961, Egypt's irrigated potato production - concentrated in the Nile River delta in the north - has expanded at a rate of more than 5 percent a year. Between 1990 and 2007, annual output rose from 1.6 million tonnes to some 2.6 million tonnes, making Egypt Africa's No. 1 potato producer.
Egypt also ranks among the world's top potato exporters - in 2004, exports totaled more than 380 000 tonnes of fresh potatoes and 18 000 tonnes of frozen potato products, destined mainly for markets in Europe.